I had a busy day yesterday commuting all round Melbourne, so by the time I got home I was near buggered. Out of habit I sent off a message regardless inquiring if a Friday night ale was on the cards, but when I got an invitation from someone else I knocked it back. Besides, I’d had a big Thursday.
It was an uneventful night. I was in bed by 9.30, lights on, unheard of for any night of the week, but particularly a Friday. I spent an hour reading by lamplight before flicking the TV on to see the last of the footy. Then lights out.
Though I was tired I couldn’t really settle into sleep. It was like I couldn’t be bothered sleeping. My sleep has been fragmented the last 6 months, mainly because I go to bed with my head buzzing with notions and ideas. That was not the case last night. I lay there thinking I should sleep, but slowly realising that no matter how weary I was I wasn’t ready for it.
It’s useless to fight it, and so I switched on the bedside lamp. I’d left a magazine half read on the floor beside the bed and began to read where I’d left off. It was Harpers magazine, the latest issue, or perhaps the issue before. I read a book review, and then an excellent essay on the works of James Salter (a favourite author). The clock ticked past 1am, the world quiet outside. Rigby, seizing his chance, had jumped up onto the bed and was snuggled up against my leg, just as he likes. I went back to the front of the magazine to something I’d skipped over the day before wanting to save for later. It was an excerpt from John Le Carre’s current book. Later had arrived, and I read with pleasure. Then, finally, it was lights out.
I woke at the usual time this morning, listened to the 8 o’clock news, then pulled on a pair of track suit pants and a t-shirt to collect the newspaper. Rigby wheeled in anticipation, knowing what that meant. He burst out of the front door and stopped at the gate, rearing at it impatiently. He looked at me over his shoulder, poised on his hind legs as if in defiance of physics. He scampered down the drive, his claws ringing on the hard concrete. I followed him more sedately. It was bright, and warmer than it might have been. A stiff, summery breeze blew. Had it been summer it might have heralded a warm day to come. As it was it lodged in my head as somehow portentous.
It was quiet but for the wind in the trees. Had I stood on the pavement I’d observed the odd jogger or dog-walker go by, but there were none about at that moment. While Rigby took a widdle on the nature strip I looked high and low for a newspaper that had led to be delivered. Rigby scampered ahead of me back to the house. I made my coffee, gave him a feed, and went back to bed without the paper.
Later, the newspaper properly delivered, and as I walked down the street, those moments earlier in the day revisited me. People were about now, the suburb had awoken. I ambled toward the shops with the random recollection of mum describing my walk. We had been at Lorne, she could not see me, but amid the crowd could pick out the sound of my footsteps distinctive among all. What was it, I asked her. An arrogant walk, she said.
The memory went in and out of my head, and in its place was that feeling of portentiousness from earlier. I knew it was merely a moment when I was more aware than at other times, but even so one thought led to another.
There have been many challenges in the last 2 years, and I’m mired now in a fresh one. I tire of it sometimes, but mostly I just accept it as the way it is. Perhaps in relation to all that the feeling that bubbles along under the surface always now became present. I won’t fail. It was not really a thought. It was like something I read aloud. It’s not determination. That’s to make too much of it, besides to be determined is an active proposition. Sure, I’m mighty determined, but this thing is separate to that. It’s like something I just know, like something that just is. There’s nothing triumphant in it, no celebration, not even pride really. I know that failure is possible, and I’m smart enough to know that there are are circumstances I have no say in that can ruin me. So I can fail. And I might, somehow, in all reality. But I guess I know, after having endured so much, that no matter how far I am cast down that I will bob to the surface again.
You might think that would make me feel good. I’m glad of it, but is the nature of this understanding that it feels pretty small. I don’t think I’m invincible. That certainly is too active a notion also. Indestructible? Closer to it maybe, but also not true. I know I have a spine of carbon fibre. That won’t fail me, and it counts for a lot, but really it’s a defensive quality. I believe I’ll come out ahead not simply because I’m resilient, but because I’m certain that I have the smarts and wiles to work my way through the most challenging of circumstances. Ultimately it’s that I believe in, my ability to think my way through any situation. It’s good to know, but no more than that. It just is.